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Metamorphic Rocks


Pictures of Foliated and Non-Foliated Rock Types



What are Metamorphic Rocks?



Metamorphic rocks have been modified by heat, pressure and chemical process usually while buried deep below Earth's surface. Exposure to these extreme conditions has altered the mineralogy, texture and chemical composition of the rocks. There are two basic types of metamorphic rocks: 1) foliated metamorphic rocks such as gneiss, phyllite, schist and slate which have a layered or banded appearance that is produced by exposure to heat and directed pressure; and, 2) non-foliated metamorphic rocks such as marble and quartzite which do not have a layered or banded appearance. Pictures and brief descriptions of some common types of metamorphic rocks are shown on this page.


Amphibolite
Amphibolite is a non-foliated metamorphic rock that forms through recrystallization under conditions of high viscosity and directed pressure. It is composed primarily of amphibole and plagioclase, usually with very little quartz. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Gneiss
Gneiss is foliated metamorphic rock that has a banded appearance and is made up of granular mineral grains. It typically contains abundant quartz or feldspar minerals. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Hornfels
Hornfels is a fine-grained nonfoliated metamorphic rock with no specific composition. It is produced by contact metamorphism. Hornfels is a rock that was "baked" while near a heat source such as a magma chamber, sill or dike. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Marble
Marble is a non-foliated metamorphic rock that is produced from the metamorphism of limestone. It is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Novaculite
Novaculite Novaculite is a dense, hard, fine-grained, siliceous rock that breaks with a conchoidal fracture. It forms from sediments deposited in marine environments where organisms such as diatoms (single-celled algae that secrete a hard shell composed of silicon dioxide) are abundant in the water. The specimen shown above is about three inches across.



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Phyllite
Phyllite is a foliate metamorphic rock that is made up mainly of very fine-grained mica. The surface of phyllite is typically lustrous and sometimes wrinkled. It is intermediate in grade between slate and schist. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.


Quartzite
Quartzite is a non-foliated metamorphic rock that is produced by the metamorphism of sandstone. It is composed primarily of quartz. The specimen above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Schist
Schist is metamorphic rock with well developed foliation. It often contains significant amounts of mica which allow the rock to split into thin pieces. It is a rock of intermediate metamorphic grade between phyllite and gneiss. The specimen shown above is a "chlorite schist" because it contains a significant amount of chlorite. It is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

slate
Slate is a foliated metamorphic rock that is formed through the metamorphism of shale. It is a low grade metamorphic rock that splits into thin pieces. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Soapstone
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that consists primarily of talc with varying amounts of other minerals such as micas, chlorite, amphiboles, pyroxenes and carbonates. It is a soft, dense, heat-resistant rock that has a high specific heat capacity. These properties make it useful for a wide variety of architectural, practical and artistic uses.

More Metamorphic Rocks
  Schist
  Slate
  Soapstone
  Quartzite
  Novaculite
  Gneiss
  Marble
  Amphibolite
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